ORD Fly by Instruments, was commissioned for the exhibition “Airport Landscape: Urban Ecologies in the Aerial Age” at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, curated by Charles Waldheim and Sonja Dümpelmann. The piece depicts all flights leaving and landing at Chicago O’Hare Airport with the 24 hour period of 21 November 2012.
ORD uses a common graphic language of flight path visualization but its goal is not to merely show the flights. Instead, the piece intends to highlight the geometry and geography of ORD far beyond simple space of its runaways and borders. There are a complex set of logistical surfaces that shape how airplanes can approach the airport— at what angles, at what elevations, and at what speeds. To conform with this logistical surface planes need to “fly by instruments” when taking off or landing at ORD, thus allowing the plan to calculate all necessary trajectories to conform with the necessary regulations. Therefore, the flights give evidence of the true physical structure of O’Hare, not evident in the space it creates on the ground, but in the paperwork that shapes its patterns in the air.